Wednesday, July 18, 2018.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
From the blog of Cuban photographer Juvenal Balán.
The prisoner with the number 46664 and the first black president of South Africa, who spent most of those 27 years confined in a damp cell barely 2.4 metres high by 2.1 metres wide, who showed gallantry and who was not, nor could anyone break his fighting spirit that led him to become the world’s oldest political captive and an icon of the universal struggle against the hated apartheid segregationist regime that existed in his country, would now be 100 years old.
A man of universal stature who is remembered today by all because, as Fidel said in a reflection following his death: “No present or past event that I remember or have heard of, such as Mandela’s death, had such an impact on world public opinion, not because of his wealth, but because of the human quality and nobility of his feelings and ideas”.
Granma’s photojournalists had the good fortune and joy of immortalizing him with their photos. Arnaldo Santos while attending the inauguration of the new government in Namibia on March 24, 1990, where Nelson Mandela exchanged with the Cuban delegation led by Revolution Commander Juan Almeida Bosque and Jorge Risquet Valdés.
Then Liborio Noval when Mandela first visited Cuba — a year after his release from prison, met Fidel Castro personally and began a close friendship — and was present at the July 26, 1991 ceremony in Matanzas, where Fidel was decorated with the José Martí Order. It was an intimate friendship sealed in the common struggle, and it remained undisturbed, for the admiration between the two was mutual.
Fidel visited South Africa again in September 1998 – the first time was in 1994 – and I had the opportunity to immortalize these two greats of history who treated each other like brothers.
Fidel said about Mandela: “Old and prestigious friend, how pleased I am to see you converted and recognized by all the political institutions of the world as a symbol of freedom, justice and human dignity.
Mandela, on Fidel’s first visit to his homeland, said: “I am a loyal man and I will never forget that in the darkest moments of our homeland, in the struggle against apartheid, Fidel Castro was at our side.
And this relationship between the two great men, both symbols of the moral strength of principles and dignity, lasted until Mandela’s death on 5 December 2013 at the age of 95.
By Juventud Rebelde email@example.com
Posted: Tuesday 27 March 2018 | 08:41:45 PM
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Many more images may be viewed here:
The march was so big it was impossible to tell at any one point how many there were. If I’d had a helicopter, perhaps… Tens of thousands were reported. Here’s the LA TIMES report:
Tens of thousands gather in downtown Los Angeles for March for Our Lives rally
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke. Here’s a video of his speech:
Follow Their Lead
Young people across America are showing extraordinary leadership in the movement to end gun violence — and it was a privilege to join tens of thousands downtown on Saturday for the March for Our Lives.
We may be hearing lot of talk about the power of the Second Amendment, but our young people are showing how powerful the First Amendment makes us — because they are unstoppable when they speak up and speak out. This day will be written about in the history books, and their children will read about a generation that stood up to the gun lobby and said, ‘Enough is Enough’ and ‘Never Again.’
We are witnessing a new layer of young people, quite massive, being drawn into activity, many for the first time in their lives. And they’re coming out for a very practical and simple reason. These mass shootings and the media’s promotion of these killings have got students afraid for their very lives, and with very good reason! So these young people are acting from the most universal material interest: the right to be alive.
DEMOCRACY NOW covered the entire march. Here’s their four-hour report:
A culture shift is opening up in the country with popular revulsion against violence taking various interesting and surprising new forms. Though posed, for now, as a response to the school massacres, it represents a broader turn against violence, it seems to me. Look at these pleasantly surprising headlines as examples of the shift:
Citigroup Sets Restrictions on Gun Sales by Business Partners
YouTube to Ban Videos Promoting Gun Sales
It’s of course much easier to organize a protest when the authorities are all in favor of what you are doing, as in this case. The cops were on good behavior. I’m sure no one was arrested. A handful of right-wing Trumpsters had a counter-rally, but the protest was well-monitored by its own people. The cops were there, too, but the counter-event was small and basically uneventful. This reflects the evident split among the wealth and powerful who control the United States today.
The dominant mass media (NY Times, LA Times, NPR, etc) are all enthusiastic about these mobilizations. They hope to steer them into support for electing Democrats in the fall. Given the absence of any broad left electoral alternative to the two dominant parties, that strategy probably will prove effective, certainly in the short term.
This kind of comment by some government officials and the enthusiastic reporting we see in the dominant media means that the parameters for discussion of these issues is now broader, much broader than it’s ever been. And that follows the stream of shootings at schools in the US which seem to be on hold, for the moment.
After the ‘March for Our Lives,’ Student Activists Focus on Midterm Elections
Organizers of the movement for stricter gun laws plan to travel across the U.S. and register young voters for November elections
It’s quite striking, to see the way the dominant media is more and more openly partisan in its support for the Democrats and in its red-baiting campaign against Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. So who do the Trumpsters watch? I guess FOX NEWS, RUSH LIMBAUGH and the like. I rarely look at such media. But there are millions of people who do get their news through such vehicles, and, as Trump’s election demonstrated, many of them do get out and vote.
Particularly impressive was the care and consciousness with which the organizers made sure to include Black Lives Matter and other Black activists to speak prominently from the platform, in Washington, and in other cities. And they understood the importance of preventing efforts to pit Black against white in the movement against gun violence.
When asked what the biggest mistake the media had made in covering the Parkland students’ work, student leader David Hogg told Axios, “Not giving black students a voice. My school is about 25% black, but the way we’re covered doesn’t reflect that.” (According to the Broward County School District’s website, around 40% of the students who attend schools in the district are black. Individual school statistics were not available for MSD on Broward County’s website.)
There’s a long history of black teenagers fighting for gun control as part of the Black Lives Matter movement’s efforts to draw attention to police brutality. Activists like Kenidra Woods, Nza-Ari Khepra, Clifton Kinnie, and Parkland student Nick Joseph have been working on the issue in Parkland, Chicago, and Ferguson, Missouri. And they have wisdom to share from their time as activists.
While I didn’t see any literature from the MARCH FOR OUR LIVES in Spanish, the event was very favorably reported in LA OPINION, our local Spanish-language daily here in Los Angeles, as well as in HOY, the free paper which the LA TIMES gives out to compete with LA OPINION. Here’s an example, one of many:
THOUSANDS MARCH FOR GUN CONTROL IN CALIFORNIA
Miles de personas marchan en California a favor del control de armas
Los participantes pidieron medidas efectivas para evitar que más gente siga muriendo en tiroteos
Six of the most powerful orators at the March for Our Lives
Another element which hasn’t been explored much, in the English-language media, is the ethnicity of the best-known of the young student leaders, Emma González, though it is beginning to be discussed in the Spanish-language media. Some of these profiles are sympathetic, others very hostile.
As well as in the Cuban media at home on the island.
Never again! The students’ cry against guns in the United States!
The pro-gun right-wing is starting to attack this anti-violence movement and its leadership.
No, Emma Gonzalez Isn’t Tearing Up the Constitution in That Viral Video
Fake photo of Parkland shooting survivor tearing up US constitution is spread online:
Whatever the reasons, a decline in gun culture in this country can only be a good thing for society. Some stores which have sold guns in the past are beginning to have second thoughts. Some have stopped selling guns. For them, perhaps, because changing attitudes make it bad for business. Examples:
Citigroup Sets Restrictions on Gun Sales by Business Partners
Whatever the reasons, a decline in gun culture in this country can only be a good thing for society.
The historic gun culture (cowboys, John Wayne, etc.) of this country, whose founders and subsequent rulers have kept control through violence since the country’s foundation. It can’t be ended in a day or a week or a year. Profound social change is necessary to make that possible. But every step we can take now is a move in the right direction.
Ask yourself, does any private citizen need an AR-I5 at home? Such a device has nothing to do with self-defense. It’s ONLY purpose is to kill people.
Below you will find some photos I took, mostly at the march on Saturday, a few Sunday morning of some posters I’d picked up at the end, and the front pages of the Sunday NY TIMES and LA TIMES. For years I’ve made it a practice at such demonstrations to collect discarded posters to donate to the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.
It’s a remarkable institution which collects and mounts theme-based exhibitions of political protest posters. I’ve turned over many more since my first donation of about a thousand posters some 20 years ago. You can, AND SHOULD, donate any old posters (young ones also accepted). US residents can even get a tax deduction. More importantly, if you have posters and they are sitting in the garage not being seen by anyone, they could get mildewed and eventually will only be good to be thrown out. Check them out here: http://www.politicalgraphics.org/
Los Angeles, California
March 26, 2018
The following pictures were almost entirely taken by me on a Samsung Galaxy S7 cell phone. A few with me were taken by people at the march who kindly took pictures of me with other people. I hope you will enjoy these images. There are twenty-eight.
NOTES ON RETURNING FROM CUBA TO LOS ANGELES
January 14, 2018. (I’m 74. January 6 is my birthday.)
If you haven’t had the chance to look at two unusually positive articles, one in the NY last Sunday, the other in the Wall Street Journal. We get so few on-scene reports from people who’ve actually been there, and provide good reports on what they’ve seen. But all the more surprising, and pleasing, to be published in these usually unsympathetic publications. Don’t miss them!
A Cuban Island That Has Played Both Paradise and Prison
The Isle of Youth — which has been both a Communist Utopian getaway and home to a brutal prison that housed Castro for a time — is a world apart, even by Cuban standards.
A Trip Through Cuba—by Bike, Bus and Cadillac
Even with the latest round of changes to the U.S.-Cuba tourism policy, American vacationers can still legally visit. Our reporter sets out on a weeklong excursion through the countryside, from verdant valleys to white-sand beaches.
Anyway, in 2017 I did these three notable (to me) things:
First, after thirty years living in the same house, I had the kitchen remodeled. It looks really nice now. I’m very happy with it.
Second, I went to Cuba for a month (Nov. 14-Dec. 14). My goal, as usual, was to learn. And I learned a lot, even, as an inpatient in the famous Cira Garcia hospital for three days. On discharge, they advised me against long walks and heavy exercise.
Back here I’ve been seeing a lot of doctors, trying to figure out what’s is really going on, and what I can or should do, or not do. One gave me shots in my knees which took most of the pain away, but I’m being very careful about how I move around. These were the planned achievements (not the hospital stay).
Alas, my energy level is way below what I think it ought to be, so I find myself frequently napping during the day. It’s taken quite a lot of time to write this over several days. It’s the energy level that’s bothersome.
Third, a surprise that I didn’t realize until New Year’s Eve. Though I had no specific goal, I lost FIFTEEN POUNDS last year. No diet, no special exercise, no tracking, no program, just learning to eat less and be satisfied les. I’m really pleased and proud of this, and all the more so as it was unplanned.
And, no, I don’t think there’s any connection between losing the weight and lack of energy. I’m in no hurry (where would it get me?) and, it’s counterintuitive. I’m having good communications with my doctors.
I’m 5-7, and hovering just below 180. This year 180 can be my ceiling. l hope to go further but no timetable, etc. I’ve dealt with this issue all my adult life. I’m thrilled with this. It’s the second biggest behavioral change I’ve ever made. (I gave up cigarets on June 11, 1981.) For now, along this path, this is my main personal priority. I’m doing as much written work as I’m able.
Perhaps if I lose more weight my energy level will improve. I’m feeling OK about my doctors here at Kaiser. Yes, including a psychologist.
My personal point of view when thinking and writing about Cuba.
From time to time I think it’s useful explain how I look at Cuba. Perhaps we can call it “stopping for station identification”. I think of it as a “Cuba-centric” approach. When I read about something, I wonder: How does this affect Cuba? What do Cubans think about it? What’s the Cuban media saying? That’s one of the reasons I like to provide original translations from the Cuban media.
Yes, I have my own politics. They are leftist and socialist, but I don’t belong to any socialist group or party. My goal here is to try to understand, and then to share, what things mean and how they and Cuba affect each other.
And I strongly support the Cuban Revolution, otherwise I wouldn’t be spending my time doing this. When I was 20 and 30, I thought I had all the answers. Now I know I don’t even have all the questions.
And so I always keep in mind Fidel’s November 17, 2005 explanation that,
among all the errors we may have committed, the greatest of them all was that we believed that someone really knew something about socialism, or that someone actually knew how to build socialism. https://www.walterlippmann.com/fc-11-17-2005.html
After nearly twenty years of visiting Cuba, I Iike to say: I am BEGINNING to think that I’m BEGINNING to understand what I THINK I see. My writings and translations aim at helping people to understand Cuba’s complex, and sometimes boring, social and policial process.
People from the United States, the most uninformed people on earth, often think they know everything about everything, especially about Cuba. And few hesitate to express the sharpest criticism of Cuban life and politics. Many who’ve never been to Cuba, or just gone there to attend a meeting, seem to think they know everything about Cuba, especially what’s wrong with it.
My approach is that I try to look and listen when on the island, and read the Cuban media when not there, trying to understand the complex society which exists there.
The CubaNews Yahoo news group, and the translations I share from the Cuban media, are all designed to help readers try to understand a complex society. It is my hope and desire that readers find the materials informative and useful in their efforts to understand the island and it society. That’s my goal in this work.
Today is Sunday, and one of the main differences between Los Angeles and Cuba is that in Cuba, the Sunday Juventud Rebelde is 16 pages. Normally it’s just eight. And no advertising. And if I wanted to get it today, I’d have to go where someone is selling them, or know someone and pay them in advance to be sure to get it today. Every kiosk in Havana has a nice pre-printed sign which says “la prensa no llegado” (the papers aren’t here) so they don’t have to explain it to each person every time. Delivery is sometimes erratic.
Here in Los Angeles I receive the Los Angeles TIMES and the New York TIMES in print every day. On Sunday the papers are filled with advertising. Actually, before taking a look at the articles, I have to spend time shucking all the advertising sections which I don’t read. I give them to someone who collects coupons. Delivery is pretty prompt most days, Monday through Friday around 5 AM, 7 AM weekends. It’s a veritable mountain of paper, some very pretty, but most of it trying to sell me things I know I don’t need. Or even want.
We kind of take it for granted, or don’t think much about how the newspaper we receive is a private business whose main purpose is to make money by selling things through advertising.
The Cuban media, limited as it is by many factors (resources, attitudes, etc.) give the reader eight or sixteen pages of information, presented from the PCC viewpoint, on major issues. Its primary audience is Cubans on the island.
I’m a bit more interested in how Cubans and the Cuban media look at developments here in the US, like the Hollywood Sex Abuse scandals (deliberate capitalizing), etc. Through the years CubaNews Yahoo news group has been providing translations of from Spanish about life in the US and elsewhere..
Because of my various health issues and reduced energy, I’ve given up cutting, pasting and sharing long articles from sources like the NY TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL and so on. It’s simply much too much work. And, I think most of the Cubans who want to read such things now have internet access.
For now, I’m going to focus on editing translations and my own writing. Some translations I do myself, others are by native Spanish speakers whose work I edit for English fluency. I always indicate that the translations are “edited by Walter Lippmann.” That’s me taking credit, responsibility or blame, as appropriate.
One very special translation currently in process is the epilogue to a 472 page anthology of Trotsky’s writings by Fernando Rojas, Cuba’s Deputy Minister of Culture. Here’s the catalogue entry to the book. In the epilogue, Rojas gives his take on Trotsky’s writings and his relationship with the Soviet government. http://www.oceansur.com/catalogo/titulos/leon-trotski/
When traveling to Cuba, my main goal is to try to understand a complex society. Cuba has achieved much because of its revolution. However, Cuba has plenty of problems, and they’re not all caused by Washington. The Cuban media provides occasional reports of such things, but they’re not always translated. I like to bring readers translations of some precisely because they are from the Cuban media.
While willing to share my experiences and ideas with Cubans, my goal there is to mostly to learn. The main things I have to teach my Cuban friends are some of the finer points of English grammar, spelling, sentence structure and headline-shortening and the occasional false cognate.
Before traveling to Cuba, I strongly recommend that everyone read, or re-read, HOW TO VISIT A SOCIALIST COUNTRY by Richard Levins to context for what one. People who’ve never been to Cuba before are often surprised at seeing many run-down buildings, streets with potholes and so on. Levins, who was also a member of the Cuban Academy of Sciences as well as a Harvard, provides indispensable context to prepare for a visit to Cuba. I try to re-read it before I go, and after returning. I cannot recommend it more highly.
During this visit, I had a chance to catch up with people, some of whom I’ve known ever since my first adult visit, in 1999. And I keep meeting new people and making more friends. I’m going to write about and how I came to meet them, and what I learn from these people. And nearly everyone has something I can learn from. Will share some photos as well. In this way, to an extent, my eyes are yours and you can see Cuba somewhat through my eyes. Hopefully not through my blind spots…
When you have people you’ve known for long periods, you always bring hard-to-find items. Here in the US, nearly anything (except love) can be found online, in or big stores, if you have the money. In Cuba, one learns that if you see something and they have it, you buy it NOW because it’s likely to be gone tomorrow.
You might have the money, but the item is out of stock and who knows when more will come? So I bring things like books, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and, this time, adult diapers for a friend from that 1999 visit, who now needs them, and they don’t have them there. Occasionally I bring balsamic vinegar, often impossible to find in Cuba, but this time I found three bottles of the genuine stuff from Modena, Italy, with the certification seal. It’s unpredictable.
For many years, used book and memento vendors have surrounded the Plaza de Armas in Old Havana with rows and racks of books (mostly) and used cameras, old coins, and such. Those vendors have now been moved about a block away to a rather less-accessible place. I’m sure their foot traffic is way down, and they complain about it. Some are selling Cuban movie posters, a few political posters, and such.
I found posters from last year’s ROLLING STONES concert in Havana. I bought some and donated them to the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, a wonderful activist-archive which collects and mounts theme-based exhibits. In time, CSPG will be selling these.
If you have political posters which are sitting in the garage, perhaps getting mildewed, consider donating them to the CSPG. Read about them: http://www.politicalgraphics.org/
Today I want to publicly thank two young Cuban compañeros who contribute to making the Yahoo news group I direct most useful. Abel Gonzalez of the Cuban News Agency (ACN) and Dunia Torres of Granma post the English-language materials readers regularly receive. Through their efforts, readers get the information and analysis which Cuba makes available in English. I am deeply grateful to them for their quiet and consistent participation. CubaNews wouldn’t be the same without them.
ETECSA has just cut the price of domestic cell phone calls. It’s modest, but anything which saves Cubans money is always appreciated, especially by them.
Each month the Cuban phone company, ETECSA, has a special one-week promotion during which anyone living abroad can recharge the cell phones of Cubans on the island. During this period, for a small charge, fully legal under US law, anyone can recharge Cuban phones, and receive a more than double number of minutes.
This is the week that these special deals are offered. There are several companies which provide this. I personally use hablacuba.com because I save money on calls TO Cuba with it as well as doing the recharges. ding.com is another, and it provides the fastest service of all, often in just a few minutes. Help your friends and family in Cuba by recharging their phones now. https://hablacuba.com/buy/mobile_recharge
The one special treat I got for myself on this trip was the beautiful guayabera you see here. Every year just in time for Christmas shopping, there’s a big arts and crafts fair, FIART, held at Expo Cuba. Thousands of people come to look for clothing, furniture, shoes and so on. There are booths selling Cubang in national currency. Though I’m a very good photographer of other people, I’m a difficult subject when the camera is turned on me. This one’s pretty nice, I think.
From now on, I plan to write and edit more, as time and my energy level permits. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Fidel Castro, speaking in Bayamo, Cuba, July 26, 2006. I took this picture, surrounded by tens of thousands of Cubans. It is my favorite picture of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution.
Also this week I made a run out to my favorite CD and DVD bootlegger, Roly, whose kiosk is just north of 23rd and 12th. The laws of the market helped this customer. Last year he was charging 1.50 CUC per disc. Now the price is down to 1.00 CUC each. I´m not sure when I´ll get around to watching these, probably not while here, but for a mere 9.00 CUC I´m now the owner of these movies:
THE FOUNDER with Micheal Keaton
LOOKING FOR FIDEL by Oliver Stone
COMANDANTE by Oliver Stone
INCONCEIVABLE ith Gina Gerson, Faye Dunaway and Nicholas Cage
ROUGHT NIGHT with Scarlett Johansson
LION staring Dev Padel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman
WONDER WOMAN with Gal Gadot
VESTIDO DE NOVIA by Marilyn Solaya
SOLO EN BERLIN with Emma Thompson, Brendon Gleeson and Daniel Bruhl
November 15, 2017, 6:35 PM
Some Very Preliminary First Re-Impressions.
by Walter Lippmann
Though I really want to share with you some of my many first impressions on arriving back in Cuba after nearly a year away, this Internet office (Sala de Navegacion as they’re called), will close in a half hour, so a fuller report simply isn’t practical today. Hope to get something fuller out tomorrow. Still…
There were only 55 passengers on the 160 seat Alaska Airlines plan which flew direct from Los Angeles to Havana yesterday. The crew loved it. Probably the company isn’t thrilled because they must be losing money. On the other hand, they made a commitment to provide this service, and probably signed a contract, so I say, “good for them” for keeping up the service.
Today I’ve visited with several friends, begun to deliver medicines and various other things which I brought for them. There are a few more to be delivered, and that will get done.
Spent a lot of time today walking the streets, sucking up first impressions (mostly quite positive), which I’ll try to detail tomorrow.
Am working in a very nice new Internet office. TWENTY machines, flat-panel screens. Quiet place, good for work. No blackouts. Friendly staff. People coming in and out during gmy time here. I’ve been working for about 2.5 hours and will stay a bit longer.
The city is about as clean and as dirty as it always is. There are more new small restaurants. Some which were here last year have gone out of business already. Others (A wonderful restaurant called Doña Laura, on H between 23rd and 21st in Vedado) are expanding their services.
You can get a FULL MEAL at Doña Laura for 30-40 pesos (1.25-1.50 CUC!), served on porcelain plates with metal knives and forks, a wonderful bargain and good food (imagine, a glass of mango juice for 5 pesos, a glass of guava juice for 3 pesos (twelve US pennies!).
Now, if you want to feed a minimum of FIFTEEN people, they will deliver a complete meal to your home, including a pig leg, for $80.00 CUC. I’m not sure where I could host such a party, but you can see things are moving right along here. I’ll write a longer report, maybe post a picture at some point.
There’s so much to say, but rushed work is guaranteed to be sloppy, so that is all for today. Been delivering presents to friends and dealing with a few bureaucratic tasks. Hopefully, more will be possible tomorrow. There’s a LOT to report.
Hundreds of women and men came out on short notice today to protest sexual abuse and rape. Called by local organizations and a group of female farmworkers, an estimated 500 people assembled in the heart of the Hollywood tourist district. They marched to the headquarters of CNN where a militant rally was held, then marched back to the starting point.
The crowd was lively, well-organized and very spirited. Local feminist and activist groups, as well as a leadership group of female farmworkers who drove 100 miles from Ventura county, made forceful statements, including speaking from personal experience. Speakers included figures in the Hollywood entertainment industry as well as local activists. The farmworkers carried signs in Spanish, and their leader spoke, in Spanish, to the assembled protesters. The event was very diverse ethnically.
One particularly striking aspect was that most of the signs were hand-made.
Police were present and well-mannered. Lots of media people were the and reports went out in the LA TIMES, LA OPINION (Los Angeles’ main Spanish-language daily) very quickly. I’ve been going to demonstrations since 1961, and except for that first march, this was the first time I have EVER been to a protest where I did not know one single individual.
Here are a series of photos I took at the demonstration.